Two Days: A Poem

February 19, 2014

** This is one of my poems, which ranks near the top of the list of favorites. It was written during the weeks and hours and days and months, or maybe just between the deep sighs and held breaths, of those 18 months of confused darkness. The scripture has always been a source of comfort and consternation to me… and I would have it no other way. So in the confusion of that season, several narratives of Scripture lived with me- or rather lived in spite of me- causing all sorts of questions and arguments with God. The narrative of John 11 was one that lived with me for some of that time. I planned to write a book on it until I drowned too much in the questions it raises. So I have to settle for this poem.**
Two days.
And it might as well have been a lifetime
For a life was lost in the meantime.
Lazarus lay dead as his power-surged friend laid low.
 
And two sisters wept
Having wiped his fevered brow
And held his hands while they trembled their last
Surrounded by loved ones, and yet the one they loved delayed.
 
Two days.
 
Word had been sent,
The cry had gone up, “Where is this God of Jacob?”
Wailing and mourning, incense laced.
And yet, he stayed away, stayed far away, waiting.
 
Two days.
 
Sister Martha ceased her pillow fluffing
Mary’s listening was dulled
Tears flowed freely, body buried
In a sarcophagus, cleaned and sealed.
 
It was four days now.
 
And a figure appeared on the road
Past the picket fence and clucking hens
Lazarus’ friend arriving, late and unruly
Welcomed by sister Martha’s cry and greeting
 
“Lord, if only you had come.”
 
Sister Mary had to be summoned.
She who had sat at his feet embittered
For surely this Lord could have stopped the fever
Stopped death in his tracks if he wanted.
 
But he had waited instead.
Two days, now four
And Lazarus was gone.
What to do with a waiting God?
 
What, indeed, do we do with a waiting God?
 
This talk of glory seems scrawny
With the stench of death in the nose
What glory, and why such pain?
Hasn’t there been glory enough these days?
 
And Jesus wept.
 
Tears that somehow speak of a mysterious God
Who cries at the suffering he could have stopped
And didn’t.
Why such holy, reckless tears?
                       
Why?
 
And emotions swelled at the fetters of death
That caused women to sob and men to look around
Helpless and concerned
And so with thanks to God, he opened the tomb
 
“Lazarus, come forth.”
 
And so he came…
 
But what to do with my Bethany days,
When two days stretch to months and years?
And when some days I scan the horizon in hope
While others I cover my head with the sheets?
 
When will this weeping power-surged friend
Come to my Bethany
Thanking God and raising the dead?
Two days stretched into a lifetime.
 
And still counting…
 
When will this Lord come dolling out new life?
In Bethany I wait, the noise of grief still clinging
Like the musty smell of rain drenched wood
Over a silent sarcophagus holding its breath.
 
And yet, late or not, he is who he is
“I am the Resurrection… Life… I am.”
And I want to believe in this delayed God
Even as I still watch for, yet resigning, his coming.
 

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